Posts Tagged ‘sitar’

Why did Bombay become Mumbai?

You might, like me, be confused why Bombay was renamed Mumbai. From what I have been able to gather, the name Bombay comes from a Portuguese name Bom Bahai when they became the first European colonial power in 1534. In 1996 the City Government officially changed it (back) to Mumbai, to reflect the name it had been given by the city’s original residents, the Koli fisherfolk who have inhabited the area since the 2nd century BC. So its a return to the original name before the Portuguese re-named it.

George Harrison and his sitar

As I will be in Mumbai when this blog is posted, I thought I would post the first ever Western pop song to feature the sitar, a traditional Indian stringed instrument. The sitar in The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood is played by George Harrison, who learnt the sitar from Ravi Shankar, one of the most highly celebrated sitar players of the 20th Century. Many of the Beatles’ songs in the 1965-68 period feature the sitar and its distinctive sound. But this was the first.


The song, written and sung by John Lennon (but, as per the agreement they struck as teenagers, is attributed to Lennon and McCartney), speaks of an affair the singer is furtively starting. It appears on The Beatles’ 1965 masterpiece Rubber Soul, one of my favourite Beatles albums.



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